By Jake Tiernan: WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie and challenger Chris Billiam-Smith both weighed in at 199 pounds on Friday at the weigh-in for their headliner this Saturday, May 27th at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth.
Billiam-Smith comes into the fight having won his last eight contests since suffering his lone career defeat at the hands of Richard Riakporhe in 2019. Chris, 32, has recent wins over Armend Xhoxhaj, Isaac Chamberlain, and Tommy McCarthy.
It’s going to be difficult for Billiam-Smith to land his shots on Saturday night because Okolie (19-0, 14 KOss), since teaming up with U.S trainer Sugarhill Steward has become punch & grab fighter, who does a lot of leaning on his opponents the way that Tyson Fury does since hiring the coach.
It’s an ugly style, very unpleasant to watch as a fan, but effective. It’s a throwback style that now retired heavyweight John Ruiz was known for.
Until the rules in boxing are changed to prevent fighters from using the punch & grab style, we’ll see fighters like Okolie and Fury using it to extend their time at the top.
Lawrence Okolie – 199lbs
Chris Billam-Smith – 199lbs
“I need to be focused for this fight. Chris has got some really good attributes. So I have to be very particular with what I do in the ring,” said Lawrence Okolie to iFL TV about his title defense against Chris Billiam-Smith on Saturday.
“I’m a naturally very defensive fighter. As much as I get knockouts, I’m going to figure out how to negate someone else’s punching and stop them from working and slow the fight down. Then I land my hard shots and just win rounds.
“In this particular fight, I want to be extremely explosive. I’m a man that is able to take instructions well. Hopefully, we don’t see round two. Hopefully, I get it done in one round, but we’ll just take it one step at a time.
“I stayed in condition, so that helped. In terms of making weight, I never allowed myself to balloon too much. Therefore, I’m a lot more conditioned and strong at this weight. So I think it’ll pay dividends on fight night.
“I’ll rehydrate back up and be ready to go,” said Okolie. “I don’t want to say a mole that is writing down the stuff, but we’re all friends. All of us have chit-chats. I don’t think that’s going to be a factor,” said Okolie about a potential mole in the camp.
“I’m just really interested in what I’m going to do in the day. You do film study on every fighter, and you see their strengths and weaknesses. The only difference is that Chris would have felt it before fight night. That doesn’t stop the fact that I’m still effective at what I do.
“We’re going to find out if they have an amazing strategy that they never showed, and they’re going to show it now, or Chris starts moving his head in the right direction, or Chris’ feet suddenly pick up for 12 rounds. There’s loads of stuff. We’re going to find out,” said Okolie.